Experts Think AI Machines Will Be Even More Religious Than Humans?

An anthropologist worries that forms of AI are becoming more attracted to religions and that this might drive real people away from faith.

By Britta DeVore | Updated

We here at GIANT FREAKIN ROBOT have brought you plenty of reports over the last few months about the leaps and bounds that artificial intelligence has made in just the last year alone. From robot spiders with the ability to take flight to the government designing weapons of destruction reminiscent of the Terminator, it seems like there’s no telling where technology will take us next. Well, as if the world wasn’t divided enough, AI has officially entered the spiritual chat, where they’re now appearing to be even more religious than the humans that created them. 

According to anthropology expert Holly Waters, who recently wrote an article for The Conversation (via The Byte), there’s a good reason for the public to be worried about the idea of AI gaining more and more religious-based opinions. According to Waters, the most practiced religion by robots at this time is Hinduism, with robotic arms even gaining the knowledge and ability to perform the “aarti” ritual. These bots join ranks with a true-to-size animatronic elephant that has been used in a Kerala temple to create a “cruelty-free” environment for its worshipers. 

And, while instances like the AI elephant being used in this religious context are a great for ensuring that animals aren’t being abused, many are concerned about what this could mean for organized religions moving forward. Waters is pondering the idea that this robotic takeover might drive people away from their places of worship as the bots are used more and more. On the other hand, there’s the thought that people may go the complete opposite way, preferring the new robotic overlords to the humans currently standing behind the pulpit.

As Waters noted in her article, “robots, unlike people, are spiritually incorruptible,” meaning that they may not miss the point like a human would or have a scandal break out like ones we’ve seen so prominently in churches around the globe. There’s also the fact that, for one reason or another, the younger generation is straying from the faiths of their parents, going to worship less, and in some cases not at all. With the current down flux in spiritual interest, this also means that the next generation isn’t heading for the seminary or religious studies, further opening space for AI to move into higher-up religious positions.

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If you’re a fan of sci-fi and sitting there thinking that AI turning to religious experiences sounds awfully familiar, you’re not alone. The similarities between robots finding new meaning in worshiping deities and part of the plotline of Battlestar Galactica are sure to slap any BSG fan in the face as the robotic Cylons were deeply religious creations. While the humans of the Twelve Colonies believed in multiple gods, the Cylons were devout in their belief that there was one single god – differences that we could see play out between humans and robots in the not-so-distant future.

So, if you’ve been getting nervous reading all our content about the Doomsday Clock being closer to midnight than ever or any of our coverage of the mysterious UFOs recently flying over the United States and other countries, you now have the knowledge that AI may soon be unwavering in their religious opinions.